LATE BREAKING MARCH 2017 NEWS

PASSING OF A TRUE AND UNIQUE RACING LEGEND

 

On Friday, March 10, 2017  John Surtees, the most unique racing champion of all-time passed away at the age of 83 years of respiratory failure.

 

Born February 11, 1934 in Tatsfield, Surrey, England, John got his racing start at the then early age of 15 thanks to his motorcycle dealership owning and racing father.  At 17, in 1951, he was already riding in the world championship motorcycle racing Grand Prix 500cc series and contesting the very best motorcycle racer in the world Geoff Duke.

 

In 1955 John won the first of his four World 500cc Grand Prix Motorcycle racing Championship titles.  As a world-class motorcyclist, John made a name and indelible mark for Norton and MV Augusta, in particular as very fast track and street bikes.

 

John amassed a phenomenal Grand Prix Motorcycle Championship race record – winning the aforementioned 500cc Class Championship four times in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960; also winning the 350cc (GP II) Class Championship in 1958, 1959 and 1960 (three very busy and successful years for him); and, compiling an astonishing finishing record of 51 Starts, 38 Wins and 45 Podiums.

 

John’s accomplishments on a motorcycle were certainly deserved of Hall of Fame recognition and a lifetime achievement already more than enough for most people, however John had more to give and demonstrate.

 

In 1960, John successfully made the jump to Grand Prix auto racing and at the Formula 1 level!  Driving for Team Lotus he finished in second-place in his second race and earned the Pole-position in his third race while still only 26.  He got his first Formula 1 win in 1963 at the German Grand Prix held at the Nürburgring.

 

Driving for Ferrari (Scuderia Ferrari/North American Racing Team) John won the 1964 Formula 1 Championship, beating the likes of Graham Hill, Jim Clark, Dan Gurney, Jack Brabham, Phil Hill, Mike Hailwood, Bruce McLaren and Peter Revson.

 

John earned the nickname “figlio del vento” or son of the wind.

 

As a Formula 1 Championship driver John amassed a record of 111 Starts, 1 Championship, 6 Wins, 24 Podiums, raced for Lotus, Ferrari, Cooper, Lola, Honda, BR (British Racing Motors), McLaren and his own Surtees Racing Organisation.

 

He also successfully competed in the 24-Hours of Le Mans from 1963 – ’65 and again in 1967, driving for Scuderia Ferrari and Lotus/Team Surtees.

 

John’s Surtees Racing Organisation team competed in Formula 5000, Formula 1 and 2 series.  His team achieved its ultimate success when fellow motorcycle racing champion turned auto racecar driver Mike Hailwood won the 1972 European Formula 2 Championship.

 

John Surtees was indeed a worthy national hero and was honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) later appointed an Officer of the Order in the British Empire (OBE) and subsequently the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) wherein as a natural British native is permitted and entitled to use and be addressed by the title “Sir” before his name, when being introduced or in conversation or communication, though he never did use that distinction.

 

In 1959, John was recognized as the “BBC Sports Personality of the Year.”  See his award presentation by clicking on the below image link.  The video is embedded in a tribute article titled, “John Surtees: Formula 1 World champion was a ‘Towering Figure” by F1 journalist Andrew Benson written on March 10, 2017.  Visit Andrew's article at - http://www.bbc.com/sport/formula1/35126201

 

And, in 1964 he disrupted Jim Clark’s string of Hawthorn Memorial Trophy wins.  In 1996 John was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

 

In2009 John lost his only son, Henry, to a Brands Hatch auto race accident, but is survived by his two daughters. Lenora and Edwina.

 

 John was always a favorite and inspiration hero of ours as he was fast and a model champion of immense career stamina.  He like motorcycle Grand Prix racing champion Giacomo Augustini were always humble, cheerful and fan approachable.  John raced when coming back home in one-piece was a lot less certain with each race a clinic on technique, tenacity and winning.

John Surtees' racing abilities were almost mythical because he was so good and should be remembered by all self- or so-called "car (or racing) guys."

 

It is an understatement to say that we will miss John Surtees.  Our heart is saddened that he has passed on and our sincere condolences to his family and close friends.

 

John Surtees may you rest in peace and race in another space, time or dimension.

John Surtees Accepting the 1959 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award Video on MotometerCentral.com

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